Reading Rainbow

Enlarge picture
The Reading Rainbow logo used between 1999 and 2007.
Reading Rainbow is an acclaimed American children's television series aired by PBS since 1983 that encourages reading among children. Each episode centers on a theme from a book or other children's literature which is explored through a number of segments or stories. The show also provides book recommendations for kids to look for when they go to the library.

Show details

Reading Rainbow is hosted by actor and executive producer LeVar Burton, who is also known for his roles in Roots and . It is produced by On-Screen Entertainment for executive producers WNED and Great Plains National.

A regular feature is a children's book narrated by a noted celebrity. Some of the celebrities who have read on the show include Harold Littlebird (born in 1951) of New Mexico ("The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush"), Michael Ansara ("The Gift of the Sacred Dog","And Still the Turtle Watched") . Another segment of the show features LeVar in different places talking to different people about their work and other contributions, focusing on the theme of each episode. The final segment of each show, called Book Reviews which starts after "But...you don't have to take my word for it" (from Levar Burton's introductory phrase), has children giving capsule reviews of books they recommend. LeVar ended every show with his famous sign-off: "I'll see you next time."

The series' pilot, which aired as the show's 8th episode in 1983, featured the book Gila Monsters Meet You At The Airport. It was created and produced in 1981 by Twila Ligget (GPN), Tony Buttino (WNED), and from LANCIT MEDIA PRODUCTIONS, Larry Lancit, Cecily Truett and Lynne Brenner Ganek. LeVar was the host. Lancit Media produced the majority of the series' episodes until the past few years.

The show's theme song was written by Steve Horelick (the series music director and composer) and Janet Weir and was recorded by singer Tina Fabrik. This opening, which depicted a cartoon butterfly transforming the surroundings of young children reading books into cartoon fantasylands, was used until 1999. A new opening with the same theme song being performed by R&B legend Chaka Khan has been used as of October 23, 2000, though classic episodes were shown with the original opening and some of the original sponsor tags on some local PBS stations between 1999 and 2002.

In recent years it has tackled issues that other children's programs have historically avoided, such as poverty in U.S. inner cities, the September 11 attacks, childbirth and its impact on the family, and prison, all from a child's point of view.

LeVar Burton and Star Trek

For several seasons, LeVar Burton hosted this series concurrently with his regular role as Geordi La Forge on (1987-1994). The 1988 episode of Reading Rainbow titled The Bionic Bunny Show dealt with science fiction and included behind-the-scenes footage of TNG as well as the only (to date) authorized broadcast of bloopers from that series. (Both the behind-the-scenes footage and bloopers come from the production of "Symbiosis.") He also mentioned Star Trek occasionally, and during a segment when he was cloudwatching he remarked one cloud reminded him of "the Starship Enterprise."

Animation producers

Feature Book filming

The photographing of the Feature Book segments were by:
  • Centron Films (1983-1987; renamed in 1986 to "Centron Productions Inc.")
  • Loren Dolezal (1988-1998; renamed in 1995 to "Dolezal Animation") Take Ten Animation teamed up with Dolezal from 1995-1998)
  • On Screen Entertainment (1999- 2007)

Opening titles filming

"Today's Reading Rainbow Books are..." bumper

For the second season in September 1984, a bumper was introduced at the end of every episode of the program called "Today's Reading Rainbow books are..."'. Rather than pausing a video-tape at the book information during the credits on 1983 episodes, viewers can hear a rundown of the books that were used on that episode of Reading Rainbow. LeVar Burton, the host of the program, or another presenter, will announce:

1. The Title 2. The Author 3. The Illustrator 4. The Publisher

Atleast three or four books were used on episodes of Reading Rainbow.

Critical acclaim

Reading Rainbow has won 8 Emmy awards for Outstanding Children's Series over the last 11 years including the Outstanding Children's Series Emmy in 2007. The series was nominated for 6 more Daytime Emmy Awards in 2005. On May 20, 2005, the series was honored with another Emmy for Outstanding Children's Series. It also won 3 more Emmys for Writing, Photography and Editing - for a total of four Emmys. It was the most honored children's series of 2005, one of a few U.S. children's shows also watched regularly by adults, and overall, one of the most acclaimed shows in all of television. In March 2007, Steve Horelick, received an EMMY nomination for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition. Today, Reading Rainbow appears on many PBS stations across the United States. Original production was to have ended in 2005, with the show continuing to air in reruns, but host LeVar Burton said on February 7, 2006 that five new episodes of the show will be shot in 2006 despite the continuing financial troubles of PBS. [1]

On March 7, 2006, Baltimore, Maryland-based Educate Inc. announced that they will become a co-producer for Reading Rainbow, replacing GPN as producer after The University of Nebraska Regents (the owners of GPN and NET) recently sold its long-time production interest to WNED, with WNED and Educate Inc. signing a co-production agreement. WNED's CEO confirmed that the agreement will allow the securing of needed funding to continue production of Reading Rainbow. [2] [3]

However, in a presentation at the Pennsylvania State University on January 29, 2007, Burton again announced that he had recently shot his last episode of Reading Rainbow and was retiring, citing differences with the new owners. [4]

Enlarge picture
The Reading Rainbow logo used between 1983 and 1999.


Educate Inc. recently announced a new corporate configuration spinning Reading Rainbow into a new products division. The future of the series is speculative.[5]

Funding

Corporate funding for Reading Rainbow is/was provided by the following: To date, the only permanent sponsors for Reading Rainbow have been the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Viewers Like You, which have both funded the show for its entire run. There have been many others, however; From 1986 and until 2002, The National Science Foundation funded the show, and The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations funded the show from 1993 until 2002. Both have resumed production during the 2006-07 season.

And kids even announced the funders of Reading Rainbow at the beginning and end of each show. Here's a sample of them...

Opening Funding 1983-1984: "Funding For Reading Rainbow was made possible by a grant from The Corporation For Public Broadcasting. And by a grant from Kellogg's, who reminding you to take time each day for reading."

Closing Funding 1983-1984: "Funding For Reading Rainbow was made possible by a grant from Kellogg's, who urges you to explore the joys of reading. Funding for the series was also provided by The Corporation For Public Broadcasting."

1984-1986: "Reading Rainbow is made possible by grants from B. Dalton bookseller, who urges children and parents everywhere to follow Reading Rainbow. B. Dalton is committed to literacy and hopes that in your house, reading is a family affair. The Corporation For Public Broadcasting, this station and other Public Television Stations, and The Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation."

1986-1987: "Reading Rainbow is made possible by grants from B. Dalton bookseller, who urges children and parents everywhere to follow Reading Rainbow. B. Dalton is committed to literacy and hopes that in your house, reading is a family affair. And the Corporation For Public Broadcasing, this station and other Public Television Stations, The Carnegie Corporation of New York, and The National Science Foundation."

1987-1988: "Reading Rainbow is made possible by a grant from Dayton Hudson Corporation on behalf of Target, Mervyn's, Dayton Hudson Department Store Company and Lechmere, and by the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, this station and other Public Television Stations, The Carnegie Corporation of New York and The National Science Foundation.

1988-1989: "Reading Rainbow is made possible by a grant from The Carnegie Corporation Of New York, The National Science Foundation, The Corporation For Public Broadcasting, this station and other Public Television Stations. And by a grant from Kellogg's, who reminding you to take time each day for reading."

1989-1993: "Reading Rainbow is made possible by a grant from The Carnegie Corporation Of New York, The National Science Foundation, The Corporation For Public Broadcasting, the financial support of Viewers Like You. And by a grant from Kellogg's, who reminding you to take time each day for reading."
  • The 1989-1993 Quote was used in the 1992-1993 season but with a different background;its either an ocean background or a sandy background but the pink lines that move toward each other when the CPB comes in towards itself, shows the logo and then splits to reveal the Viewers Like You logo was also introduced.
Opening Funding 1993-1994: "Reading Rainbow is made possible by a grant from The National Science Foundation, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the annual financial support of Viewers Like You. And by a grant from Kellogg's who reminds you to take time each day for reading."

Closing Funding 1993-1994: "Funding for Reading Rainbow is made possible by a grant from Kellogg's, who urges you to explore the joys of reading. Funding for this series is also provided by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Science Foundation, and the annual financial support of Viewers Like You."

Opening Funding 1994-1997: "Reading Rainbow is made possible by a grant from The Corporation For Public Broadcasting, by the annual financial support from Viewers Like You. And by grants from the National Science Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and a grant from Kellogg's, who reminds you to take time each day for reading."

Closing Funding 1994-1997: "Reading Rainbow is made possible by a grant from Kellogg's, who urges you to explore the joys of reading. Funding for the series was also provided by The Corporation For Public Broadcasting, by the annual financial support of Viewers Like You. And by grants from The National Science Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations."

1997-1999: "Reading Rainbow is made possible by a grant from Kellogg's Rice Krispies, who reminding you books are totally overflowing with cool stuff. Get in on it. Wake up to explore the joys of reading. And the National Science Foundation, which supports programs that enable children to succeed in science, math, and technology, by RCN, and by the annual financial support of PBS Viewers Like You."

1999-2002: "Reading Rainbow is funded in part by Barnes and Noble and barnesandnoble.com, for minds at play. Grants were also provided by The National Science Foundation, supporting education and research in science, mathematics and technology, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by contributions to your PBS stations from Viewers Like You. Thank You.

2002-2005: "The Children's Place is proud supporter of Reading Rainbow, a place to grow, The Children's Place. This program was also made possible by a Ready To Learn Television Cooperative Agreement from the U.S. Department Of Education, through the Public Broadcasting Service, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by contributions to your PBS stations from Viewers Like You. Thank You."

2006-2007: "Reading Rainbow is Funding in part by The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, who dedicated to strengthening America's future through education. And by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and contributions to your PBS stations from Viewers Like You. Thank You."

Notes

1. ^ Burton Talks Drama, Diversity, Respect & 'Reading Rainbow'
2. ^ Western New York Public Broadcasting Association and Educate, Inc. Announce New Reading Rainbow Partnership
3. ^ Educate ventures into television with children's show
4. ^ Owens, Alyssa. "'Reading Rainbow' star encourages imagination", The Daily Collegian, 2007-01-30. Retrieved on 2007-1-30. 
5. ^ [1]
6. ^ During the years Kellogg's was sponsor, Reading Rainbow would get promoted on the boxes of Kellogg's cereals, generally at the start of each season.

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